With Krejci out, Thomas shows the way

When Marc Savard was injured last week against Chicago and it was learned he would be joining fellow Bruins star center Patrice Bergeron on the sidelines for a few weeks, the joke circulating in the media was that No. 3 center David Krejci should consider playing drenched in bubble wrap.

Well, the Bruins didn't take the joke as advice, so Thursday night they had to face San Jose without Krejci, who suffered an undisclosed injury in Anaheim 24 hours earlier.

In a 2-1 shootout win over the Sharks, we found out what a Bruins lineup devoid of any gifted offensive pivots would play like. They kept dumping the puck in, they won some battles and, most important, they traded excitement for simplicity. While that might not be the formula for keeping those of us in the East awake while trying to keep up with the West Coast trip, it's the only way Boston will be able to salvage any points against some of the league's best teams until they get healthy.

The victory over the Sharks was a great display of the abilities of Boston's three award winners from last season. Tim Thomas, far and away, was the best player on the ice with a season-high 41 saves in regulation and overtime, then made four stops in as many attempts in the shootout.

Zdeno Chara, who suffered an up-and-down night in Anaheim, was at his Norris Trophy-best while limiting the best line in the NHL -- Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton and Dany Heatley -- and keeping the puck moving out of the Boston end. That he notched the lone shootout goal was icing on the cake.

And coach Claude Julien found just the right combination of forwards and blue-line pairings to coax his undermanned club to two points against the team that started the evening atop the league standings. Obviously not impressed by resumes, Julien had no problem playing the likes of AHL fill-in Trent Whitfield and Daniel Paille for more ice time than Michael Ryder and Vladimir Sobotka. While you could argue with Julien's choice of Ryder and Mark Recchi as two of the Bruins' first three shootout shooters, at least he made up for those decisions with his pick of Chara to go fourth.

Yet again, a Julien-coached Boston team managed to overcome health obstacles to win a game it had little business winning. Now if this injury-ravaged team can pull out a point in L.A. Saturday they'll come home with a .500 trip.